Stop Paying Employees With Prepaid Debits Cards Associated With Fees and Charges

Target: Darden Restaurants President and CEO Gene Lee

Goal: Stop allegedly forcing employees to use prepaid debit cards for wages earned.

Some employees receive their earnings through paychecks or money deposited directly into their accounts, while many employees are unfortunate enough to receive compensation on prepaid debit cards. These prepaid debit cards are associated with a variety fees. Employees at Darden Restaurants locations, which include Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, are some of those employees that use these cards due to corporate attitudes that are hyper-focused on lowering operational costs.

Of the 148,000 employees working for Darden, about half of them use the prepaid debit cards in lieu of paper checks or direct deposits. Each card takes about $2.75 off Darden’s overhead costs, saving the company about $5 million annually. Although the company is saving money, the employees must deal with the fees. There is a 99 cent fee when the card is used to pay a utility bill. A 50 cent charge is assessed whenever the card is declined. The card is charged $1.75 if an out-of-network ATM is used to withdraw money. It costs 75 cents just for the cardholder to check the balance. If the employee loses the card for any reason, it costs $10 to get another one issued.

The banks that issue these cards rake in a lot of money through these fees and charges. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia put median bank earnings at around $1.75 per card, amounting to about $1.5 million annually. Making matters worse is that the $1.75 out-of-network ATM fee is only administered by the card issuer. There is an additional surcharge tacked on by the ATM. At an average of $2.88, the additional ATM surcharge forces these workers to pay nearly $5 each time they withdraw cash.

This practice is abominable and detrimental to the economic security of American workers, especially those who are low-wage. Sign the petition to tell Darden that this practice will not stand and that the economic security of employees is of the utmost importance. Everyone should be secure in their finances and not bogged down by unreasonable, arbitrary fees that could destroy workers’ livelihoods.


Dear Mr. Lee,

The alleged forced administration of prepaid debit cards to low-income employees has the capacity to sink these employees financially and render them destitute. Darden and the banks that supply these cards are profiting off the litany of fees that are assessed to the cardholders for everyday use, including charges administered in the payment of certain bills and charges administered when the cardholder checks the balance on their card. Low-income employees, especially those whose wages are paid at $2.13 per hour, cannot afford to be stuck with these charges that are in some cases administered at no fault to the employee, such as when a gas station freezes money while processing a gasoline purchase.

It is with this in mind that we urge you to stop forcing your employees to use prepaid debit cards. Even those of us who make the lowest of wages should be afforded some level of economic security and should not find their hard-earned money at the whim of their employers and the banks that their employers do business.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Anthony92931

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